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Saturday, March 10, 2007

In defense of the king.

This is going to be a strange post so bear with me. If you have any questions as to what this is about in further depth please feel free to contact me or reply.

Recently I was asked by Wolfgang Baur to post my thoughts on the whys and wherefores of printing beyond what was initially the scope of a patrons only publication for steam and brass. So here goes.

Patronage versus limited edition what is the difference?

Simply put pride in being able to be a part of a new aberration in the pattern of the world.

The model that Wolfgang is currently using for his open design project is not a limited edition model as so many of those that want a copy are saying and using as justification for printing and selling to those who were not initially involved as patrons of the project. A limited edition would have only a set, certain amount of printings bound by the whim of the publisher. The publisher would consist of a single business entity that has determined to create a product for the public and that an aspect of that product would/will be limiting the number of copies. The product is created by the publisher with limited or no direct input as to the content of the publication. The publication is then printed, and if it sells well probably printed as a second "non-collectors edition." The only input would be the direction the contracted artist would take at the behest of the publisher and possibly any suggestions they gleaned from marketing or focus groups.

The patronage model differs drastically from this even though those that were not or are not patrons may not be able to see the differences.

The patronage model will also have a set limited number of copies created, usually in accordance with the amount of shares that have been bought by the patron. Currently each patron of the project gets the same number of copies regardless of the number of shares they have. That is only one. This may change but it does not change the nature of the model or how it is conducted. Unlike a limited edition the artist is at the behest of their patrons. We are the publishing company and we are telling them directly what we want. Obviously there is some level of input on the artists behalf, that is the reason we have choosen Wolfgang, we like what he will do and want to support his vision. However it is not just his vision, it is ours as well. There is a tremendous amount of input by the patrons into the design, you see he is making this for us. He is not making it for the general public. We have paid and agreed with him that the cost of the project include our input, which specifically means our monsters, our storyline modifications, our artwork changes, our subject matter. We are his editors, and his publishers and we have paid for this.

If you want a copy of an early work then too bad. You should have gotten in on the ground floor. You will just have to wait until someone sells their patronage for that project to you with all the appellate rights of ownership that has. Until then they have the pride of being able to say-this is mine, at least in part. I helped. And I paid for it.

Please see this article:  http:news.bb.c.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7010484.stm.

It has been suggested to me that art cannot be owned.  (Yet we have copyright laws.)  That it has only the power given to it by its viewers.  (Yet its message can be deemed offensive and banned from public consumption (yes-even in the US.). )  That art by its own nature changes with the viewer.  (Yet we honor the artist for the message of the art-if it changes how then can we truly tell that the message of the artist is intact?)

The root of all of these concerns is not content, nor is it really copyright.  These are things that dance around the real problem of intellectual control.  That is the basis for Games Workshop in torpedoing a cool movie-art that will be seen only by its patrons.  Why?  Because games workshop is aware that if the art changes, the message changes, and it is no longer 40k.  I know this concept really sticks in the craw of independent gamers.  But lets face it.  You are not mad that they are changing your art, you are mad that yours is simply not as successful as theirs (not in terms of money but in terms of voice-every artist wants their message to be the loudest and the clearest-it is why they do art.)

So the question is, do the patrons have the right to institute intellectual control of Wolfgangs work?  Yes.  Not because we are artists, or because we are saying we are as good a writer as Wolfgang, nor are we placing ourselves as judges of his work.  But as humans who have heard a message-in this case patronage-not steam and brass, but what it represents in market forces on the internet-we have every right to see that the art remains unchanged and a clear representation of what Wolfgang did.  Already the message has changed.  For the better or worse?  I really don't know, nor do I really care.  It is, however, no longer what was originally accomplished.  It maybe closer to what was intended, but not what was first accomplished.

Wolfgang successfully revived a model that was left by the wayside of commerce over 400 years ago.  While that may not be art, it does fall under culture, and history.  I see a need to protect that because without an accurate accounting of the past, we might as well just pretend that we can fly to the moon, or make a computer out of a cardboard box.  We will get nowhere fast if we constantly work to re-interpret our heritage to fit what we think we should be thinking right now.  There can be no value base in a shifting past, and with no value base, no laws, and with no laws there can be no art, for what does art do best but speak out against the unjust and reflect what we are missing so that we may fill it in.  

So no, I will not let Steam and Brass be released.   I am sorry if I offend you, that was not my intent.  I am sorry if I make you mad, that was not my intent either.  But please, before determining that I am the one that needs to make adjustments to fit your view of how life works I ask you to honestly explore yourself why you feel the way you do.  Give me sound, unselfish concepts and I will listen accordingly.

Troy Luginbill


  1. So, wanna sell your patronage rights?

  2. I wonder if I might have a compromise to offer on this issue. Please comment on the Kobold forums here:


  3. Here is the post, to whet your whistle:

    I note that the reasoning that the project is "closed" is that it would be like buying now stable stock at the price when it was risky.

    In a sense I agree...why should people now get the same price without the risk?

    Here's what I propose: DOUBLE the cost of any purchases on the now collectable adventure. Then, have Wolfgang keep the original fee amount and spread the remainder among all of the original patrons (perhaps in quarterly/biannual/annual payments so that this doesn't have to be done every time someone buys a single copy.

    Less risk=higher cost. Fine by me.

    As far as exclusivity goes, there would be a direct correlation between payment and exclusivity. If one person buys the adventure, the exclusivity is only slightly diluted, the person has paid a substantial sum for the adventure (which in and of itself would be a way to promote exclusivity), and those who lose exclusivity gain money. If a number equal to the original patrons buy the adventure (effectively doubling the amount of patrons), then every patron essentially has a full refund, Wolfgang gets to make money, and the project is still fantastically exclusive---and in the hands of only people who have a real desire for it or have money to burn (lucky bastards).

    I wonder if this model would be acceptable to those four patrons who balked at opening it up to additional "investors" in the project. If not, I think the stock market comparison really falls flat.


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